12th Jan 2015
Hayseed Dixie Records
This wins the album title of the year award. Having been round long enough for fashions to come round to them rather than chase them themselves, Hayseed Dixie celebrate the mighty power of the banjo and unlike Mumford & Sons, they have the Devil (or at least the Devil’s music) to strengthen their arm. On this, their, um, umpteenth album, they celebrate the stadium end of rock more than the metal they normally like on their plate. It’s a grand joke and far more fun than you’d expect.
A dozen slabs of rock wait on the album and as each begins, there is a moment of recognition and a smile, as you hear a revered radio staple being turned into a silly strummer. The guilty pleasure part of your brain can now enjoy the tune in a cool and ironic way without the internal cheese / chintz alarms going off. I’ve seen the band live and can vouch that they have a lot of fun and the quality of the covers keep the concept going far longer than you’d expect.
Having treated us to the like of AC/DC in the past, this sees more hair metal and stadium fillers with the likes of Pink Floyd and The Scorpions alongside more traditional fare like Motorhead. And they can actually play – listen to the opener, Don’t Stop Believin’, for some extended banjo/ guitar jamming. Crammed into a studio in their new cultural home – Cumbria – the band are inspired by the “bounties” of classic rock radio with its endlessly recycled lighter-wavers. This interest began during a 2014 Spring tour of Germany, in which the band heard the song “Eye of the Tiger” 6 times on 6 different German radio stations in a single day while driving between Dortmund and Frankfurt.
Quick rundown: Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin, Survivor’s Eye Of The Tiger, Europe’s Final Countdown (the antithesis of Laibach’s Teutonic super-bluster), a folksy ballad version of Poison’s We’re Not Going To Take It, a skiffle take on Bryan Adams’ Summer of 69, an anti-bombastic version of Def Leppard’s Pour Some Sugar On Me…… and so it goes, twist on twist on take of songs I thought I was sick of. Tell me that Comfortably Numb wouldn’t benefit from some speedy bluegrass banjo picking and your heart will tell you you’re just plain wrong. This isn’t new and it’s not ground breaking – what it is, is FUN.
Good old fashioned entertainment……..